17 things you used to need just to take a picture

We take our smartphone for granted. Just look at all the gear one needed to snap a nice photo.

We are all photographers and photo labs. Our phones — and how silly is it to still refer to them as "phones" — can snap gorgeous pictures with a touch of the thumb. Then we can adjust the level, correct the lighting, crop the shot, slap on nifty filters in Instagram or whatnot. That used to take a load of equipment and chemicals. Hooray for technology!

Still, we miss a lot of things about old pictures. Even younger generations must, as they use computers to make a crisp digital image of their dinner plate look like a washed out Polaroid. We miss a lot of things about the tactile process of taking a picture — well, except for carrying everything around.

Here are things amateur photographers once had just to fill a scrapbook of the family.

1. A film cartridge

Well, you obviously have to start with film. And don't forget to wind it.

Image: pdxretro

2. Flashcubes

Remember the crisp popping sound of the flash going off? Or the blinding light if you were on the other side of the camera?

Image: Pinterest

3. Fotomat

When was the last time you saw one of these cute yellow roofs in a local parking lot? We always pitied the people who had to work inside the tight confines.

Image: atticpaper

4. Lenses

Ha, "pinch and zoom"? The only thing getting pinched was your skin as you tried to hastily screw in a heavy zoom lens before that butterfly flittered away.

Image: torontoist

5. A lens filter

In Instagram we can quickly slap on an effect like Sierra, Perpetua or Ludwig for that warm, autumnal look. Back in the day you needed, you know, an actual filter for that sepia tone.

Image: pexels

6. A lens cleaning kit

You've got to keep those lenses clean.

7. Arm strength and two hands

Yes, this was a compact camera at the time. Nikons were made of metal and you knew it by the weight.

Image: Flickr / mistral_mars

8. A strap

Clearly that sucker is not fitting in your pocket.

9. A camera case

Those lenses are precious. You've got to protect them.

10. A bag in which to carry everything

Man, this gear is really piling up. Time to buy a strong leather satchel.

Image: Pixabay

11. Photo enlarger

That zoom slider on your smartphone is a lot more convenient, no?

Image: wishbookweb

12. Developing kits

Photography was not an art, it was a science. Chemistry, to be specific.

Image: wishbookweb

13. Slide projectors

Well, you've got to have something to show your pictures. This carousel plus a party with your neighbors was the Facebook feed of the 1960s.

Image: wishbookweb

14. A tripod

"Image stabilizers"? Ha! It's called a screw and three legs.

15. A basic understanding of photography

You actually had to know what an f-stop is. Oh, speaking of which, you might want to pick up a light meter, too.

16. Another person to take a selfie

One exposed arm (or the dreaded selfie stick) would not properly do the trick. It was better to have a pal take your picture. You needed that other person there to tell you to say cheese. Photography was more social that way, and far less solipsistic. 

Image: clickamericana

17. …or a timer

Okay, you could be a loner and take a picture of yourself. But you were going to need a self timer — and that tripod.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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idkwut2use 47 months ago
Ha, I know it all well, having an avid photographer for a brother and a couple high school darkroom classes under my own belt. ^^
And the Fotomat looks cozy! Well, potentially.
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